The members of Kilkenny’s largest political youth grouping, Kilkenny Ógra Fianna Fáil, have said that a positive outcome to the Children’s Referendum is vital in ensuring that the State begins to recognise and protect children’s rights.
Chairman of Kilkenny Ógra Fianna Fáil Pat McKee said that as things stand the importance of children’s rights is not reflected in any meaningful way within the constitutional text and the amendment will change this by placing children’s rights expressly into the constitutional text. He said that the purpose of the referendum was first and foremost to ensure that the best interests of children were put at the heart of the constitutional text.
Pat accused those on the no side of using what he described as emotive and loaded language. “What is being expressed by those on the no side is constructed in such a way as to frighten people and is being used to induce those who have genuine questions about the amendment into voting no for reasons that are false and baseless. We all accept that in the vast majority of families the interests of parents and children coincide, but this does not mean that we should forget that there are a considerable number of instances where the child’s welfare and even on occasion their lives are under threat through abuse or neglect, these are the children this amendment seeks to protect,” he said.
He pointed to the fact that the amendment contains a reference to the principle of proportionality. “Proportionality will be applied by the courts and this is important because it ensures that State intervention will only be allowable were that intervention is proportionate to the danger posed to the child, there will be no unjustified interference by the State, the autonomy of the family unit will be respected and protected, parental rights will not be undermined and in our view the amendment strikes the right balance,” he claimed.
“the Constitution is not a document that is within the exclusive possession of lawyers and academics, it shouldn’t only be found on the dusty shelves of legal offices or university libraries, it is the people’s document and is a statement of values, the clear statement of children’s rights as contained in the amendment is surely a value worth stating and that is why we are advocating a yes vote,” he added.